Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Fostering has many unexpected highs, but of course there are lows.

One low that gets me every time - though it shouldn't - happened to me again this week.

It's got to do with that thing when children reach a certain age and don't want to be seen with their parents. I think it's pretty common, maybe universal. Apparently there's a good reason for it. It's a preliminary to the young leaving the nest and braving it out into the world. I guess that means that baby blackbirds wake up one morning and chirp to themselves "I don't want to be seen dead with these deadbeat blackbird parents any more, I'm off outa here..." and away they fly.

Then again Confucius (or someone like him) said "Let your children go and every path they take will lead them back to you."

Fair enough, but it's a bit painful when you have to walk past them in the high street when they're out with new school friends and know that you're not supposed to say hello because they'd be mortally embarrassed.

That's what happened this week. Only, the thing is, in fostering, the; "I don't want to be seen with my foster parents" is seriously profound, sometimes.


A couple of summers ago we took the family to Centre Parcs, great fun. Everyone bonded, joining in all the activities, me and the other half watching; you're not getting us zip-wiring over forests. And of course that was the right thing to do. Children want their parents to stand back and be amazed at them, and if we went white-water sluicing where's the achievement in them doing it?

We bonded so big that after the first day a delegation of children came and asked us if we could eat in our cabin every evening. I was immensely flattered, the night before we'd gone to one of the many restaurants and everyone had ordered what they wanted. Not cheap, but we're on holiday!

The plan to eat in our own kitchen in the woods was agreed and I did a shopping excursion in the afternoon and bought everyone's favourites. I set off up the woodland path early evening from the pool and got all the food ready.

They came cycling back at the appointed time and we ate, all chomping and laughing. The main topic of conversation being the new friends they were all on the verge of making. They ate up and everyone begged to be allowed out until it got dark. Centre Parcs is set up for this so we allowed. Everyone had their mobile phone.

Clearing away the dishes I said to other half;

"How nice they wanted a home-cooked dinner."

"Don't get your hopes up too high girl," came the reply. "After you left I caught wind of a few discreet conversations about what's going on. There's a couple of families with children about the same age as ours and ours are hoping to buddy up. Thing is the parents of the other children are half our age. And they're the real parents by the look of it."

Body blow for sure. Ours didn't want the other families to see us because we won't see forty-five again. Moreover, without me betraying any details, you only have to look at us as a family unit to tell that we are what we are.

We ate in the cabin every evening except the last night, when we all went out together to one of the restaurants, they didn't have to keep their fostering secret any more.

And yesterday there I was shopping in the High Street and one of our looked-after children was suddenly coming towards me with a bunch of friends I didn't recognise. I crossed the road and pretended to stare into the charity shop window where I used the reflection to tell when they'd got past and it was safe to go on.

Thing is this; much as it hurt, the child knew what I'd done with the child in mind, and speaking of mind I didn't mind at all, or mention it that evening.

But I'm 95% certain the child knew and appreciated what I'd done, and that's what it's all about.

Hurt Factor: 8/100. Satisfaction Factor 92/100.


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